Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Richard Hanna today announced the success and expansion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot program to serve New York-based Chobani yogurt in school lunches. New York State was chosen as one of four states to participate in the pilot program in July 2013. USDA has decided to continue and expand this highly successful program to four additional states during the next school year. During the pilot program, 200,000 pounds of yogurt were provided to schools in those states.
“Greek yogurt like Chobani is packed with healthy protein that our schoolchildren deserve access to in their school lunches,” said Senator Gillibrand, the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly four decades. “New York State is home to a strong and growing Greek yogurt industry. And when we connect Chobani to lunchrooms across the state and across the country, we can give our children better access to healthy, nutritious food, while strengthening New York’s own dairy industry. I am pleased to work with Congressman Hanna, Senator Schumer, and the USDA to build on this promising initiative.”
“I am pleased that more students throughout the country will be able to enjoy Greek yogurt as part of their school meals,” Rep. Hanna said. “This is a nutritious and healthy option for our children, and it is great to see a New York state product leading this program. This is another exciting opportunity for Chobani, our state’s growing Greek yogurt industry, and the hardworking Upstate dairy farmers who support it. Thanks to Senator Gillibrand, Senator Schumer and the USDA for their continued commitment to this initiative.”
New York State leads the country in Greek yogurt production. The pilot program will test the cost effectiveness of offering high-protein Greek yogurt in the school lunch program, which feeds 31 million students monthly nationwide. The Greek yogurt pilot program would also promote the health benefits of Greek yogurt. Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has twice the protein, less sodium and fewer carbohydrates.
Senator Gillibrand and Representative Hanna have long been proponents of incorporating Greek yogurt into school lunch programs. In August of 2012, while touring the Chobani Yogurt Plant in Norwich, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Hanna led a bipartisan coalition to support the reclassification of Greek yogurt under the USDA’s MyPlate nutrition guidelines. In January of 2013, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Hanna urged the USDA to select New York Schools for the Greek yogurt pilot program. In June of 2013, the USDA finalized the first Commercial Item Description for Greek yogurt, differentiating it from other types of yogurt. Following the expansion of this program to four additional states, there will be a new bidding process in the upcoming months to determine which company will source the Greek yogurt in these states.